This article was originally written by Phyllis Staff
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Frankly, as a single parent of young children, I struggled. But, as the single parent of teenagers, I stunk! Faced with the reality of children who could (and did) do whatever they really, really wanted to do, I was often baffled.
Functioning as the caregiver of two adult parents, I again find myself baffled. But I am sure of one thing — It’s no wonder many caregivers die before the elders they care for! They simply wear out!
Consider this recent exchange:
ME: “How is that new medication working?”
PARENT: “It doesn’t work. I still feel sick.”
ME: “OK, call the doctor and tell him.”
PARENT: “I can’t. He doesn’t answer calls on the weekend.”
ME: “Well, someone does.”
PARENT: “No, they just tell me to go to the emergency room.”
ME: “OK, call the doctor’s office on Monday.”
PARENT: “Well, he doesn’t have anything better to offer.”
ME: “How do you know?”
PARENT: “He never does.”
ME: “Well, call anyway, OK?”
PARENT: “He doesn’t pay any attention to me.”
ME: “He can’t help if he doesn’t know you’re still sick. So, call, OK?”
PARENT: mumbles something unintelligible.
ME on MONDAY: “Did you call the doctor?”
PARENT: “No, I’m feeling better today.”
ME: “Well, how about I go to the doctor with you?”
PARENT: “No, I’m not a child. And I don’t want you treating me like one!”
I’ve run headlong into these issues more and more often of late. It’s enough to drive you to drink – or whatever it is you do to deal with unending frustration. After all, these are my parents – and they are adults. . .or at least they used to be.
Could I get help? You can guess the answer! Something about hell freezing over.
I’m not about to win this battle, but I could use a friend during some of the more serious skirmishes. Here are a few things that could really lift my spirits:
Come over. Don’t send flowers. They’re just something else to take care of. But a home-cooked meal would be great.
Stay and serve it. Even greater!
Call often. Not me, my parents. Give them someone else to vent to.
Be a chauffer. Take them to the doctor, to shop, whatever. Just take them off my hands for a little while.
Start a “Caregiver’s Day Out” at your church, synagogue or temple. Give me a break – just a few hours would be wonderful.
Suggest a companion from the Senior Corps. These retired adults spend 10-20 hours each week being a companion to shut-ins. If you’re retired, consider becoming one yourself.
Lobby your Representatives and Senators for more funding for Adult Day Care Centers. The nearest one to me is 45 miles away and does not provide transportation.
Some people believe that life is a school with lessons for each of us. If so, my lesson is patience. I know I have to grow it for myself. . .but, please, rally round in the meanwhile. My patience cells are still infants!